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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Prudence Wade

Fusion is the name of the game in these exciting recipes

Yuki Sugiura/PA

I’m not sure if you’re allowed to call a sauce that doesn’t contain meat, doesn’t start with a soffritto, and that only cooks for 10 minutes a ragu, and yet because of the concentrated flavour of the dried porcini, this has all the intensity of a meat ragu that has simmered for hours,” says Ixta Belfrage.

She recommends having all your prep done before you start cooking, as “things happen rather quickly”.

Porcini ragu

Serves: 2 as a main with leftovers, or 4 as a starter


40g dried porcini

4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve

3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped (not crushed!)

½ tsp chilli flakes (or less if you prefer)

10g fresh parsley (stalks and leaves), finely chopped, plus extra to serve

⅓ tsp fine salt

1½ tbsp tomato puree/paste

About 50 twists of freshly ground black pepper

250g dried tagliatelle nests

40g parmesan, very finely grated, plus extra to serve

3 tbsp double cream


1. In a medium bowl, cover the porcini with boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 75g of the soaking liquid. Very finely chop the porcini to mince consistency, then set aside.

2. Put the oil, garlic, chilli flakes, parsley and fine salt into a cold, large sauté pan on a medium-low heat. Very gently fry for five minutes until soft and lightly golden, turning the heat down if the garlic starts to brown.

3. Increase the heat to medium-high, then add the chopped porcini, tomato puree/paste and plenty of pepper. Stir-fry for three minutes, then set the pan aside while you boil the pasta.

4. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for about six minutes, until al dente. Drain, reserving 350g of the pasta water.

5. Return the sauté pan with the porcini to a medium-high heat, then add the 350g of pasta water and the reserved 75g of porcini soaking liquid. Stir, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, leave to bubble away for three minutes. Add half the parmesan to the pan, stirring until it has melted before adding the rest. Lower the heat to medium, then stir in the cream, followed by the drained tagliatelle. Toss over the heat until the pasta and sauce have emulsified – about one-and-a-half minutes.

6. Remove from the heat and serve at once, finished with as much extra oil and Parmesan as your heart desires.

Chicken with pineapple and ‘nduja

Pork and pineapple. Name a better duo. We’ll wait (Yuki Sugiura/PA)

“There is no greater union than that of pork and pineapple,” says Belfrage.

“The pork here comes in the form of ’nduja, a spreadable chilli-spiked sausage from Calabria. Add chicken, pineapple, chipotle and tangerine to the mix and you’ve got yourself a party.”

In this recipe, Belfrage uses tangerines instead of oranges but says you can use either that’s available – as long as you use fresh fruit juice, not from a carton. If your fruit isn’t that sweet, she recommends adding some maple syrup or honey when you add the stock or water.

Serves: 4


4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, at room temperature

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife

1 medium onion, halved and very thinly sliced on a mandolin

½ large, extra-ripe pineapple, peeled (300g)

4 sweet tangerines (or 2 oranges), squeezed to get 100g juice

100g chicken bone broth, stock or water

2 tbsp double cream

5g fresh coriander

1 lime, cut into wedges

For the ’nduja and chipotle paste:

50g ’nduja paste/spread

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp tomato puree/paste

½ tsp chipotle flakes

½ tsp paprika

¾ tsp fine salt

About 20 twists of freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C.

2. Put all the ingredients for the paste into a large bowl and mix together. Add the chicken, garlic and three-quarters of the sliced onion and mix well so everything is coated evenly. Tip the onions and garlic into a 28cm ovenproof cast-iron skillet or similar-sized baking dish and spread out. Place the chicken thighs on top, skin side up and spaced apart.

3. Cut the pineapple into four rounds, then cut each round into quarters, removing the hard core (you should have about 300g). Add the pineapple to the bowl with the remnants of the paste, mix to coat with whatever’s left there, then arrange the pineapple around the chicken.

4. Pour the tangerine juice around the chicken (don’t get the skin wet), then bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the stock or water into the pan around the chicken (again, don’t get the skin wet). Return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is browned and crispy. If you have a blowtorch, use it to char the pineapple a little.

5. Drizzle the cream into the sauce. Toss the coriander and the remaining sliced onions together with a tiny bit of oil and salt and arrange on top. Serve from the pan, with the lime wedges alongside.

Whipped yoghurt with roasted strawberries and peanut fudge sauce

Peanut butter and jelly, but refined (Yuki Sugiura/PA)

“The lime-roasted strawberries and peanut fudge sauce are essentially a refined combination of peanut butter and jelly, and boy do they sing together!” says Belfrage.

“Here I serve them with a simple whipped yoghurt, but you could serve with plain yoghurt or shop-bought ice cream.”

Serves: 4


For the roasted strawberries:

300g frozen strawberries, defrosted (frozen strawberries will produce a redder syrup, but you can use fresh strawberries – stalks removed and roughly chopped – just make sure they’re extra ripe)

50g caster sugar

½ lime

2 cinnamon sticks, roughly broken

For the whipped yoghurt:

150g mascarpone, fridge-cold

200g yoghurt, fridge-cold

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

1 tbsp maple syrup

For the peanut fudge sauce:

50g smooth peanut butter (I use ManiLife)

1½ tbsp cocoa powder

75g maple syrup

1 tsp soy sauce (or tamari)

1½ tbsp water


1. Preheat the oven to 200C fan/220C.

2. For the roasted strawberries, place all the ingredients in an ovenproof dish just big enough to fit the strawberries in a single layer. They should be snug, but not piled on top of each other. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway. Set aside to cool.

3. Place the mascarpone, yoghurt, vanilla paste and maple syrup in a large bowl and whisk together until completely smooth. Keep the bowl in the fridge until ready to serve.

4. For the fudge sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. You may need to add more water or maple syrup, depending on the thickness of your peanut butter. You’re looking for a smooth, thick but pourable consistency.

5. In individual glasses, layer the chilled yoghurt with the warm strawberries and the fudge sauce and serve.

‘Mezcla: Recipes To Excite’ by Ixta Belfrage (published by Ebury Press, £26; photography by Yuki Sugiura), available now.

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